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Types of Experience

Much of the advice offered on this site recommends getting as many experiences as possible.  But what do these experiences look like?  Here is a short description of each, starting from the simplest and leading to most complex.

Informational Interviews:  One of the best and easiest ways to gain knowledge about careers and experiences is to perform informational interviews.  Identify individuals that have careers that interest you and ask them about their jobs.  This is exactly how the information about people’s careers was generated for this website.  You can establish contact with individuals via email, phone, or in person.  What you ask is up to you and the interview may be short or long, but here are some questions to get you started: 

  • What is a typical day like for you?
  • What training or experience did you gain ahead of time?
  • Do you have any advice for someone pursuing a similar career?

Who knows… your informational interview may lead to a chance to have a shadowing experience!

Shadowing:  Shadowing is exactly as it sounds:  you serve as someone’s shadow for the day.  Depending on the job or location, you could just be an observer or you might have opportunity to help.  You do not get paid for shadowing, but instead you are gathering information about job expectations and environment.  Shadowing requires you to ask someone if they are willing to have you “tag along” at their job.  Don’t be shy! The answer might surprise you!

Internships:  Internships are jobs (that may or may not be paid) that generally last for a specific amount of time (weeks or months) in which your expectations are very clear.  In general, you are learning about the job, but you are also doing work wherever you are interning.  For every job, there is a different internship structure so it’s important to understand what is expected of you.  Think of them as informal or short-term jobs.

Jobs:  When you have a job, you get paid to do an expected amount of work or service.  In general you have a boss(es) or supervisor(s) that you report to and who keep an eye on your progress.  You get paid a certain rate either by hour or in terms of what work you are doing.